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Woodrow Morrison, Jr.

As we strive to end violence against all people, we especially focus on those most vulnerable; women, children, and elders within our Native communities. The story and lessons addressing anger help us to understand the need for balancing emotions. They also help us to know that all of our emotions are valuable, and that we must learn to listen to the messages delivered by each one.

In the following lessons, writer Numpa Foxes Singing presents teachings designed to help us re-establish respect and harmony throughout all generations of Native families and communities. These teachings include the integration of positive identity development with building healthy relationships, encouraging appropriate conduct and skills development, and the restoring of traditional cultural values back into our family relationships.

Lesson 2 – The Caretaker: Learning to Have Relationships Again

Goal

Learn about making the choice to connect with others and have relationships again.

Activity

Listen to Woody’s story in Video #2 and review the information and questions presented in this Lesson for self-reflection.  Use these links to access the available resources with this lesson:  Woody Morrison’s Biography, History of the Haida Tribe, Anger Information Sheet, Feelings Resource Sheet, and the Historical Trauma Resource Sheet.

The Sacred Hoop:  We are always connected

All tribal people have Teachings of a Truth that we are all connected.
Many know this as the Medicine Wheel and the Sacred Hoop.
These Teachings share that Life consists of relationships with our families,
with nature, with spirits, and all of creation.

In Lesson #1 and 2 we learned about the underlying aspects of anger and how these aspects can feed angry behavior when they go unnoticed and without support.  In the Hero’s Journey, the orphan wanders and begins to ask questions.  The orphan begins to meet people along the way that offers pieces of information to help answer the questions.  At some point, there is an Elder that offers counsel and support.

Lesson #3 guides us thru understanding the Hero’s Journey into a time of meeting people on the journey.  We call this the time of the Caregiver.  It is through meeting people along the Journey that we begin to ask the questions and are willing to hear answers.  It is in these relationships we begin to accept friendships and vulnerability.

Woody began his wandering when he left his home in 8th grade.  Anger grew and was unleashed in his behavior during the time he called “institutionalization.”  His anger continued to separate himself from others and rage became a common way of life.  He had little regard for himself or others.

“I was institutionalized, and of course I was angry. I mean there was a rage going on in there. I would lash out and I nearly killed people. I didn’t kill them, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying. I used to pick the biggest guy I could find; maybe I was hoping this one could kill me. I wasn’t what you would call a good fighter. I was just crazy. I wouldn’t even remember it afterward when the rage was gone.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

Woody learned to care for people and have relationships again.  Read out loud and review the following quotes listed in sequential order of his presentation.  They have been identified in two categories:   (1) SELF as comments generated from his own observations and feelings, and (2) OTHERS as comments made about someone else whom approached or intervened in his life.   Answer the questions at the end of this lesson to learn more of the importance of relationships in healing.

SELF: “I abused my wife and kids emotionally.”
SELF: “I wanted it to stop and I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
OTHERS: “In the ten years that I tried to figure out how to make that stop, I managed to meet a lot of Elders. It all seemed like we were trying to find our way back.”
OTHERS: “I got invited to go to a sweat.  It was a woman who invited me because it was for her birthday. There were a bunch of us and my reason for going to the sweat had nothing to do with spirituality.”
SELF: “I suddenly saw what I had become.”
SELF: “I wanted no part of that.”
OTHERS: “It was a couple weeks later this guy practically twisted my arm to get me in the sweat again.”
SELF: “I decided, “I’m going to face me.”
SELF: “It was the first time that I can recall crying since I was a kid.”
SELF: “I was ashamed of myself.”
OTHERS: “This Navajo guy came up and he put his arm around my shoulder and he says, “Congratulations, Woody, now you’re weak enough to be a man.”
SELF: “I went to an Apache psychologist.”
SELF: “I went into peyote ceremonies.”
SELF: “I went to more sweat ceremonies.”
SELF: “I went to AA.”
SELF: “I went to Al-anon and I just got mad”.
SELF: “I found a program called Adult Children of Alcoholics.”
SELF: “I went to a treatment program.”
SELF: “That’s when the rage broke.”
SELF: “I could start fitting back in to becoming part of a group again.”
OTHERS: “One day I asked an old, old man—I said how do I find my spirit?” He said, “It’ll find you.” And I asked, “How am I going to do that?” And he said, “Stand on the land that’s your home. Carry your mind. Just stand there quiet. Pretty soon you’ll feel your spirit come back.” And that’s when my healing began, when I could feel that come back again.”
Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

1. There are three types of SELF quotes reviewed above. They fall into the categories of: (1) Self-Awareness, (2) Decisions, and (3) Actions. Please review the quotes and identify the category for each quote.

2. What categories do you see yourself when reviewing SELF observations?

3. When reviewing the quotes associated with OTHERS, there are various levels of relationships and interaction with these people. Discuss your observations and thoughts of the types of interactions and relationships found in these quotes.

4. What types of relationships do you have with OTHERS?

5. When reviewing the SELF quotes that began with “I went…” Woody actively engaged in ceremonies, meetings, and programs where he was engaging and being with people. What do you think about the importance of relationships in these experiences? What do you think about culture in these experiences?

6. In the story of the Hero’s Journey, there is always and Elder that helps guide or offers words of wisdom. In Woody’s story and reflected in the quotes above, whom would you describe as the Elder and why.

7. Do you recognize anyone in your life as an Elder?

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